Appeals From Family Court Orders in South Carolina

In Family Court in Horry County, Charleston County and Florence County, final orders from divorce and custody actions are frequently appealed to the SC Court of Appeals as well as the Supreme Court of South Carolina.  However, it is well-settled that temporary orders generally can not be appealed to the South Carolina Court of Appeals.  Only orders that address matters on a final basis may be appealed. Once a party receives a final order that has been executed by a family court judge, a party has thirty (30) days to file a notice of appeal.

A party may appeal a family court judge’s ruling on child custody, visitation, child support, alimony, equitable distribution, restraining orders and most frequently, the award of attorney fees.  It is important to note that a litigant who appeals a decree ordering child support or alimony will have to continue making the payments while the appeal is pending in the South Carolina Appellate Court.  However, most family court appellate attorneys agree that attorney fee awards and equitable distribution are generally stayed during an appeal.

When reviewing appeals from the family court in South Carolina, the court historically used the abuse of discretion standard.  However, in recent cases, the South Carolina Court of Appeals has held that the standard of review for family court rulings is de novo for factual and legal issues.  This means that the appellate court can find facts in accordance with its own view of the preponderance of the evidence.

It is important to remember that the family court does not have jurors in South Carolina.  Only one family court judge makes a ruling at trial.  On appeal, the court reviews the record to see if the family court judge correctly followed the divorce and custody laws of South Carolina and how the law was applied to the facts of the case.  In some appeals, the South Carolina Court of Appeals may hold oral arguments.  Oral arguments are nothing like a trial.  During oral arguments, a family law appellate lawyer in South Carolina appears before a panel of three judges and argues the issues contained in the initial brief.  The respondent’s attorney must also appear before the panel and argue the contested issues.  During oral arguments, the appellate court judges engage in a question and answer setting, during which the family court appellate attorney must answer questions about the briefs.  There is no live testimony during these arguments.  The appellant and the respondent may be present, but do not address the appellate court judges.  An opinion is issues generally two to three months later.

Once an opinion is issued, the loosing party may petition the Supreme Court of South Carolina to hear the case.  However, the Supreme Court does not automatically accept the case.  The court must decide whether or not to allow the case to proceed in the Supreme Court.  If you have questions about appellate practice in South Carolina or would like to appeal a decision from the Family Court in South Carolina, contact the Mace Firm.


Divorce Lawyers in South Carolina

In South Carolina, in order to get a no-fault divorce, the parties must have been separated for a year or more. If you reconcile, then separate again, the time starts over. The fault based grounds for divorce include physical cruelty, habitual drug use, adultery and desertion.  In order to prove adultery, the evidence must show that your spouse had the inclination and opportunity to have an affair. Most divorce lawyers in Myrtle Beach also like to have evidence of affection, for example, a picture of the spouse embracing a paramour. Circumstantial evidence can be used to prove adultery, but it must be clear and convincing. If one spouse is successful on a claim of adultery, the other spouse is barred from receiving alimony.

Habitual drug and alcohol abuse is difficult to prove, you have to be able to show that the other spouses drug or alcohol abuse was the cause of the break down of the marriage.  Physical cruelty can be proven in a variety of ways, however, proof of physical violence does not always establish physical cruelty as a ground for divorce.

The parties assets are usually divided 50/50 using a process known as equitable distribution. Any property that you owned before the marriage is considered to be separate property and not subject to equitable distribution unless it transmuted into marital property. For example, you buy a house, and a few years later you get married. You decide to add your spouse to the title of the home and live in the home for the duration of the marriage. The court may find that this home transmuted into marital property even though it was originally separate property.

The court considers many factors when deciding to award alimony in South Carolina, including the age of the parties, their standard of living, assets, wealth, and the length of the marriage. The court also considers the actual need of the party seeking alimony and the other spouse’s ability to pay the alimony. However, if the party requesting alimony has committed adultery, that person will be barred from receiving any alimony.

If you have questions about divorce laws in South Carolina, contact the Mace Firm, we have divorce lawyers in Myrtle Beach SC who can assist you.

Child Support Laws in South Carolina

In all cases in which child support is an issue, the family court considers the child support guidelines in South Carolina. As a result, t is important to hire a divorce attorney in Myrtle Beach, SC who is knowledgeable about child support guidelines. The guidelines are based on the idea that a child should receive the same financial support that they would have received if the parents were still living together. According to the court case of Mitchell v. Mitchell, the family court should consider the following factors when establishing child support: both parent’s income, the ability to pay child support, education, expenses, and assets and the facts and circumstances of each case.  Also, whether or not the medical insurance or childcare is an expense will also come into play when calculating child support. The children should have the same standard of living they would have had if the parties were still together.

When parents combined incomes are high and the guidelines do not cover the amount, the court considers the child support amount on a case by cases basis. Therefore, if you are seeking child support in Horry County, it is important to speak with a family law attorney in Myrtle Beach, SC to explain your rights. South Carolina case law states that, “a child is entitled to live and be supported in a life style commensurate with the current income of his parents.” see Mallett v. Mallet 323 S.C. 141, 149, 423 S.Ed.2d 804, 809 (Ct. app. 1996).

Another issue that must be addressed is whether a child has an extraordinary medical expense. The child support guidelines assume that the parent managing custody of the minor child will be responsible for up to $250.00 per year in uninsured medical expenses. Extraordinary medical expenses are those reasonable and necessary uninsured medical expenses in excess of $250.00 per child each year.

If you have questions about child support in South Carolina, contact the Mace Firm, we have attorneys in Myrtle Beach who practice family law who can assist you.

Divorce laws in South Carolina

It has been confirmed that Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds were married at Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, just outside of Charleston. This is the second marriage for Reynolds, who married Scarlett Johansson in 2008 and divorced two years later citing irreconcilable differences.

South Carolina does not recognize irreconcilable differences as a ground for divorce, instead South Carolina’s no fault ground for divorce is one year’s continuous separation. The parties must be separated for a year or more in order to obtain a divorce based on this ground.

South Carolina also has four fault grounds for divorce: adultery, physical cruelty, habitual intoxication, and desertion. In order to obtain a divorce in South Carolina, a party must be a South Carolina resident for a year prior to the action being filed. If both parties reside in South Carolina, the residency requirement is three months.

In order to be granted a divorce based on adultery, the party must show that their spouse had the opportunity to commit adultery, and is inclined to do so. Opportunity can be proven by offering evidence that a spouse was alone in a private location with a member of the opposite sex and inclination can be shown through evidence of affection, for example, pictures of the couple embracing, kissing or holding hands.

In order to be granted a divorce based on physical cruelty, there must be evidence of violence that causes unsafe cohabitation. Slapping, hitting is generally not enough evidence, however, a serious violent act may be enough for a party seeking a divorce in South Carolina based on physical cruelty. It is important to note that mental or emotional cruelty is not a recognized ground for divorce in South Carolina.

In order to obtain a divorce based on habitual drunkenness or drug use, a spouse must prove that the drunkenness or drug use contributed to the break down of the marriage. A spouse must also prove that the dry or alcohol abuse is frequent or a fixed habit.

It is important to discuss these grounds with a Myrtle Beach divorce lawyer if you are thinking about getting a divorce in South Carolina.

Contact a divorce attorney today in Myrtle Beach South Carolina if you have questions relating to divorce, child support, child custody, visitation rights, alimony and property division.

The Mace Firm and the Myrtle Beach divorce lawyer handles Family law cases in the Myrtle Beach area, including divorces, child custody and visitation cases.

Pattinson Moves Out and Cancels Appearances

Robert Pattinson has canceled public appearances to promote his film “Cosmopolis.”  News broke earlier that his longtime girlfriend, Kristen Stewart, cheated on him with director Rupert Sanders.  Stewart issued an apology to Pattinson, but it appears that he has not forgiven her for her indiscretion.

If Pattinson and Stewart had been married in South Carolina, he would be able to file a divorce based on adultery.  Proof of adultery in South Carolina as a ground for divorce must be “clear and positive.”  However, every divorce attorney in Myrtle Beach, and all over the State know that adultery can be proved using circumstantial evidence that establishes the inclination to commit adulterous conduct as well as the opportunity to do so.  Direct evidence is not required.  However, evidence that a spouse was with a member of the opposite sex on several occasions is not enough, more evidence of affection is needed.

In this case, if he had been married to Stewart in this State, Pattinson’s Myrtle Beach divorce lawyers could use the pictures published by Us Magazine to prove adultery.  The pictures show Stewart and Sanders embracing.  Additionally, Stewart’s public apology could also be used against her by a family law attorney in Myrtle Beach in court as an admission.  Additionally, a Horry County divorce lawyer could take Stewart’s deposition and ask her questions about her relationship with Sanders.

Once adultery is proved at a final hearing for divorce, it is a bar to alimony.  It is the law in the State of South Carolina that “no alimony may be reward to a spouse who commits adultery.”  Therefore, if Pattinson is successful on his claim of adultery, Stewart would not receive any alimony from him.

Evidence of fault may also affect equitable distribution.  When determining how to divide the assets acquired by the parties during a marriage in South Carolina, the Horry County Court considers a number of factors, including but not limited to the length of the marriage, marital misconduct, contribution to the marriage by each spouse, the income of each spouse, heath and retirement benefits, any award of alimony and child custody.  All property acquired during the marriage is part of this process unless the court determines that some of the property is non-marital.

Here, Pattinson may receive more than half of the assets if he is successful on his claim of adultery.  Call an experienced Horry County divorce lawyer to discuss your case today.


Twilight Star Caught Cheating

Twilight star Kristen Stewart has been caught cheating on her on and off screen boyfriend Robert Pattinson.  Stewart admitted today to having a romantic fling with the director of her recent movie, “Snow White and the Hunstman.”  Stewart and Pattinson are not married and do not have any children, however, the man Stewart had an affair with, Rupert Sanders, is married and has two children.

If Sanders was married in South Carolina, his wife could file an action seeking full custody of their two children and could seek a divorce based on the grounds of adultery.  She would also ask for child support.  In order to prove adultery in South Carolina, a Myrtle Beach divorce attorney must prove inclination and opportunity by clear and convincing evidence.  In this case, Stewart’s admission could be used against Saunders in a divorce case.  She could even be subpoenaed to testify about the affair.

Adultery can be very difficult to prove in South Carolina, and a private investigator is often needed to offer proof of a spouse’s adultery.  This evidence may include pictures of a couple embracing, leaving a house or hotel, or as in this case, pictures of the couple embracing in a vehicle.

Adultery is not the only fault ground for divorce in South Carolina, habitual drunkeness, desertion, and physical cruelty are also fault grounds for divorce.  South Carolina’s no fault ground is when the parties have been separated for one year or more.  In some cases, evidence of adultery may affect who retains custody of the minor children.  For example, if one spouse can prove that the other spouse committing adultery exposes the minor children to a paramour, this will effect the case.  As a result, every Myrtle Beach divorce and custody attorney advises a client to refrain from entering into a romantic relationship when going through a divorce.

If Saunders’ wife decides to forgive her husband and the parties reconcile, she can not use his relationship with Stewart against him in a later proceeding.  He will have an affirmative defense to her claim of adultery, reconciliation.

If you have questions about adultery in South Carolina, contact our divorce attorneys in Myrtle Beach, SC today.

Cruise Will Pay Millions in Child Support

Holmes and Cruise reached a settlement very quickly, likely due to reports that Cruise had Holmes sign an iron clad prenuptial agreement before they were married.  Prenuptial agreements address property distribution, distribution of other assets as well as alimony.  It appears that Holmes did not try to have the prenuptial agreement set aside, but in fact decided to file for sole custody of their daughter.  Prenuptial agreements do not address child custody or child support.

When examining South Carolina’s child custody laws, certain factors are considered by a Family Court Judge at a custody hearing.  Child custody cases in South Carolina usually begin with a Temporary hearing, during which South Carolina family lawyers, in Myrtle Beach or Horry County, present affidavits to a Family Court Judge, who then makes a decision on a temporary basis.  A Guardian ad Litem is appointed to the case to represent the child.  The court considers  several factors when examining a custody case, including but not limited to: the age and fitness of the parents, who has been the primary caretaker of the child, a parent’s morality, education and parenting skills as all as any evidence of abuse.

In South Carolina, the primary custodial parents receives child support from the secondary custodial parent in a joint custody arrangement.  In a sole custody arrangement, the parent with visitation rights pays child support to the custodial parent.   Reports have suggested Cruise could have to pay more than $10 Million dollars by the time Suri, their six year old daughter, reaches the age of 18.  Therefore, Holmes is the primary custodial parent, and Cruise likely has liberal visitation rights.

Standard visitation is usually every other weekend beginning Fridays at 6 p.m. and ending Sundays at 6 p.m.  Major holidays, including Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter are rotated.  For example, the Christmas Holiday usually last for roughly two weeks, so if one party has the first week in the even numbered years, the other parent will have the first week in the odd numbered years, rotating weeks every year.  The party with visitation also usually receives anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks of summer visitation.  Cruise likely has more than standard visitation.  In a joint custody arrangement in which one party is the primary custodial parent and the other parent is the secondary custodial parent, the secondary parent may have extended alternating weekends, from Thursday to Sunday or Monday, or may have an overnight during the week if the parties live in the same area.  The secondary parent likely will receive more time in the Summer as well.

Experienced Family Court attorneys in Myrtle Beach understand that a a child custody case are extremely difficult and emotional.  Parents in a custody case often attempt to resolve the case via a settlement agreement, just as Holmes and Cruise have done with their divorce in order to avoid a lengthily court battle. If you have questions regarding child custody, child support or a divorce in South Carolina, contact our Myrtle Beach family lawyer.  Our Myrtle Beach family lawyer will answer your questions about family law in South Carolina.